September 13, 2006
LETTER TO MY DAUGHTER JESSIE
Jerry originally wrote this column when he sent his beloved daughter off to college. If you think he was teary-eyed then, you should have seen him when the tuition bills started rolling in.
LETTER TO MY DAUGHTER JESSIE
Summer is over and after I finish writing this column, your mom, the beautiful Judy Licht, and I are taking you off to Philadelphia where you start your freshman year in college.
Your mother has been weepy for days and I'm keeping my sunglasses on indoors. In fact, I must confess I have some tears in my eyes as I write this. Your not-so-little brother J.T. is gloomier than a 15-year-old should be. He's going to miss you. The wonderful Renee, who has protected and watched over you since you were an infant, looks like she is about to cry at any moment.
Even our dogs, Mocha and Oreo, know something is up. I could swear there was a tear in Oreo's eyes while you were packing up your clothes. At least her nose was wet. Your other pooch, Mocha, who is a little dope, is dealing with this change in our life the way he deals with all changes: he's running around in circles . . . not unlike your dad.
The countdown to this day started on graduation day in June, which now seems to have taken place just a few minutes ago. The prospect of a child going off to make their way through the world has made this a bittersweet summer in many homes. Anyone who has had a child go off to college knows what I mean.
We're a close family and you have been part of our daily lives for 18 years. That will all change tomorrow.
I know you don't want to leave and you must know we don't want to let you go. I know what you're going through because I've reached that time in life when I know it's far easier to grow old than to grow up.
But, Jessie, every time I feel sad about your going off to school, I think of an incident that happened a few weeks ago that convinces me that it is imperative for you to go off to school and get a great education.
The incident forced me to reach the conclusion that, try as I might to picture our family as "The Brady Bunch," the truth is we're more like a "Seinfeld" episode. And, at the rate we're going, we will soon be like "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
I've told the story many times in the last few days and some people think I'm making it up, but we all know it's word for word true, don't we?
Two weeks ago on Saturday night you decided you wanted a last dinner, before going off to college, to be held at Nick and Toni's.
The plan was that we would all meet at the restaurant at 8:45. We reserved a table for six people. Your mom and I went to a cocktail party and arrived at the restaurant promptly on time. We sat and waited for you, JT and our houseguests, Sandy and Randall (not their real names), to arrive. At 9:45, none of you had arrived. You remember how worried I sounded when I called the house? You remember the conversation? Here's how it went:
"Jessie? Where are you?"
"Dad, I just answered the phone. I'm at home."
"But you're almost an hour late. What's going on?"
"Everything is alright now."
"Now? Now?" I screamed. "What was wrong before?"
"We fixed it. We'll be there in a few minutes," was the answer.
"Fixed? Fixed what?" I asked. "Nothing was broken when I left the house — What had to be fixed?"
"There was a little problem, but it's all straightened out." Then you giggled.
True to your promise you all walked in minutes later — an hour and a half late. You, J.T. and Sandy had silly grins on your faces. Randall's handsome, movie star face looked pale and he was twitching like he was about to keel over. Then you told us the amazing and hilarious story of Randall's near death experience.
It seems that Randall decided to shower and called to you just as he was about to get in and asked if you had any hair conditioner. Now, Jessie, we all know that Randall's greatest pride is his long, Beach Boys-blond hair.
"I have a conditioner called HAIR VARNISH. I got a couple of bottles in gift bags from a charity event," you replied. Then you walked upstairs where Randall was showering.
Randall stuck his arm out from behind the shower curtain and you placed the bottle of HAIR VARNISH into his hand.
Then, as you came down the stairs, you glanced at the label on one of the bottles. That's when you discovered the product name wasn't HAIR VARNISH. It was called HAIR VANISH!
"RANDALL. NO. STOP!!" you screamed. Too late. Randall had rubbed (as he later described it) the "evil-smelling, gooky" hair depilatory called HAIR VANISH into his handsome blond hair.
For Randall this was a scarier shower scene than the one in the movie Psycho.
The next hour was spent frantically washing the HAIR VANISH off of his head. Randall applied bottles of real conditioner and the good news is . . . not a single hair was lost.
Jessie, you will go to school and I have no doubt in four years you will return with the first Ivy League diploma in the history of our family. At your graduation I will ask you just one question: "Do you know the difference between the words VARNISH and VANISH?"
If you answer correctly, and I know you will, I will be satisfied that all that we have spent on your education will have been worth it.
We're going to miss you.
I love you,
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